Experienced Counsel for Tennessee Condominium Property Claims
Navigating condo insurance claims and disputes throughout the Southeast and Midwest
Condominium property damage claims come in two forms. One type covers damage to common areas such as the roofs, structural components of buildings, hallways, parking lots, swimming pools, garages, etc. The other covers damage to the individual units. Different documents and different insurance policies can cover all sorts of claims. By-laws may determine the rights of claimants, and claims can vary depending on how the condominium complex was actually built. The homeowners’ association (HOA) may have the right to payment, or the individual owner may have the right. Damage to one condo can affect many other condos.
The condominium property insurance lawyers at McWherter Scott & Bobbitt have the experience to guide both homeowner associations and individual unit owners through these complicated claims and the insurance claims dispute process. Our attorneys have broad experience with condominium claims throughout Tennessee, the Southeast, and the Midwest. We’ve handled numerous seven figure property damage claims for condominium owners’ associations across the area.
Tennessee’s condominium association laws
The Tennessee Condominium Act of 2008 sets forth the statutory requirements for condominium construction, development, common and limited elements, the rights and duties of condominium associations, residential uses, and many other provisions.
Understanding these laws is necessary to understand which insurance coverage to purchase, who should purchase the insurance, and what obligations must be met so that any repairs or rebuilding meets the state requirements. The Condominium Act is set forth in the following parts:
- Tennessee Condominium Act of 2008 -- General Provisions
- Tennessee Condominium Act of 2008 -- Units and Allocation of Common and Limited Elements
- Tennessee Condominium Act of 2008 -- Unit Owners' Association
- Tennessee Condominium Act of 2008 -- Units Restricted to Residential Purposes
The knowledgeable attorneys at McWherter Scott & Bobbitt can discuss these laws and regulations with you to ensure you have the proper coverage to protect your condominium and your investment.
Common condominium insurance damage cases we handle
We understand the intricacies and difficulties of large and complex condominium insurance claims. Our lawyers have the experience and knowledge to assist HOAs recover what is owed and obtain prompt and just resolution of insurance claims. Some of the key issues in condominium claim cases our Tennessee-based insurance attorneys handle include:
After a windstorm, the roof leaks. The insurance company claims the leak was caused by a lack of maintenance and “wear and tear,” but the roof never leaked before. This is just one example of how insurance companies often try to minimize valid insurance claims. We assist condominium associations with fighting causation battles by engaging appropriate experts and properly submitting the claim to overcome these roadblocks to coverage.
Who has the right to bring the claim?
Our attorneys determine who has the authority to bring the insurance claim – the condominium owner, the homeowners’ association, the unit owners in combination, the owners individually, or some other legal entity.
Typical HOA Claims
Generally, the condominium owners’ association holds the right to recover on its HOA policy for damage to common areas and the structure itself, including the following areas:
- Damage to the foundation
- Roof damage
- Damage to the walls and windows
- On some policies, damage to interiors to the extent of the original building specifications
- Electrical, plumbing, and other utility damage
- Common hallway and stairway losses
- Damage to swimming pools, tennis courts, community rooms, and other amenities offered to all condominium owners
- Damage to landscaping, parking lots, and garages
Items unique to the individual homeowner or tenant
Generally, most HOA policies do not cover individual unit-owner’s improvements to units (such as upgraded floors), but that isn’t always true, and a close examination of the policy and by-laws is required. Unit-owners are practically always required to insure their own personal belongings, such as furniture, clothing, jewelry, appliances, entertainment systems, computers, smartphones, personal valuables, and more. It may also include carpets and other items inside the individual units.
Value and Amount of Loss
As with other insurance claims, the amount of the loss is often contested. Our firm works with condominium construction experts, engineers, estimators, building consultants, and contractors to determine the accurate cost of accomplishing the necessary repairs. Replacement cost versus actual cash value is also a common issue, as is the amount of depreciation.
As with other insurance contests, we bring bad faith actions when insurance companies fail to honor their contract obligations.
Why was my individual unit-owners condo insurance claim denied?
When condo owners suffer losses, they sometimes face challenges that single-family homeowners don’t. The insurance company may deny the claim based on exclusions, or lowball the claim based on the type of damage that was incurred.
Your personal condominium insurance policy, typically known as a HO-6 policy, will most often cover damages and losses you sustain inside your condo. The policy held by the condo association where you live will most often cover damage done to the common areas of the property and damage to the building itself. It’s also possible that both policies could activate and address damages at the same time. For example, if the roof leaks and does damage to the interior of your condo, your policy could cover interior damage, while the association’s policy might handle damage to the exterior roof.
How to ensure your condominium insurance claim is approved
There’s no guarantee that a condo claim will be appropriately paid, but you can take steps to improve the odds that your claim will be properly paid. Here are some suggestions if damage to a condominium occurs:
- Hire competent professionals to assist with assessing the damages and don’t just trust the insurance company’s adjusters.
- Send email blasts to unit-owners to make sure the property manager and insurance company are aware of all related damage.
- Review the policy closely to determine your rights and obligations
- Take photos or videos of the damage
- With hail and wind damage, document damage to other nearby properties
- Cooperate with the insurance company’s requests and make the property available for inspections
- Enlist the help of your agent in assisting with the claim process
We’ve found the need for legal assistance to be especially high on condominium claims. The board of directors often don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to properly assess the claim, leaving the insurance company to handle the claim at its own whim. This type of approach can leave the association under-indemnified, under-paid, and often results in a downhill spiral of being forced to use capital reserves to repair what should have been paid for by the insurance company. When claims are denied, underpaid, or slow-walked, our insurance dispute attorneys work to force insurance companies to honor their insurance policies.
Condominium property insurance attorneys who get things done
Here are just a few of the successes we’ve achieved for our clients throughout the years:
- In 2018, we represented an East TN condominium owners’ association in a hail loss and assisted the owners’ association obtain an additional payment of $287,500.
- After a condominium insurer underpaid a hail loss claim for damage to roofs and other exterior components in 2017, our firm filed suit and assisted the client in recovering an additional $400,000.
- In 2016, our firm represented condominium association in a claim for hail and wind damage after the insurance company initially valued the damage to the property at approximately $150,000. The claim ultimately was resolved at a total value of $1,785,000, an increase of more than $1.6 million.
- We represented a condominium HOA in 2016, recovering more than $750,000 after damage to the community’s roofs.
Speak with respected condominium insurance lawyers as soon as a disaster happens
McWherter Scott & Bobbitt fights for condominium unit owners and homeowners’ associations covered by insurance policies across the South and Midwest. We’ve worked with countless property managers and condominium owners associations get timely payment for their claims, guiding them through the complexities of condominium insurance claims so that the buildings are repaired or rebuilt to pre-disaster status, and assisting with securing appropriate compensation for damaged property Please call 731-664-1340 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. Our attorneys are licensed in Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas and Kentucky.